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Yashpal Arya had been the Uttarakhand Pradesh Congress Committee president for seven years before joining the BJP.

Transport Minister in the BJP-led Uttarakhand Government Yashpal Arya and his son Sanjeev Arya, who is a legislator from Nainital, joined the Congress on Monday. Uttarakhand Assembly poll is scheduled early next year.

This is a ‘ghar wapasi’ (home-coming) of sorts for Mr. Yashpal Arya who had been the Uttarakhand Pradesh Congress Committee president for seven years before joining the BJP. A prominent Dalit face in the State, he is a six-time MLA.

Speaking at his induction, Congress general secretary (Communications) Randeep Surjewala, said that Mr. Yashpal Arya forwarded his resignation to the Governor on Monday morning, following which he met former Congress president Rahul Gandhi to formally join the party.

Mr. Yashpal Arya said that he felt relieved to be back in his home — the Congress. “Congress has a history of sacrifice, a legacy that we are proud to carry forward. Democracy in the country can be strengthened only if the Congress is strengthened,” he said.

Senior Congress leader K.C. Venugopal said the father-son duo’s return to the party in a way showed which way the wind was blowing in the State. “Today is a home-coming for both of them. When they met Mr. Gandhi this morning, he told them that their return to the party will strengthen the party in the State,” Mr. Venugopal said.

Senior party leader Harish Rawat also indicated that more BJP leaders were likely to join the party. “Mr. Gandhi asked Mr. Arya, what is the difference between the BJP and the Congress. Mr. Arya said that the Congress has inner party democracy, which is completely absent in the BJP,” Mr. Rawat said.